Cruise ship passengers will be able to sail unimpeded around the country as state leaders scrap COVID-19 restrictions for passengers.
The NSW government on Monday formally ended COVID-19 restrictions for passengers in the cruising industry following advice from the national government health advisory body.
The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, which advises governments on guidelines, on Friday said the risk of COVID-19 had reduced with the wide availability and uptake of vaccination and treatments for COVID-19.
“In this context, the (committee) considers there is no longer a need for COVID-19-specific recommendations and guidance to apply to the cruise industry,” it said.
NSW Premier Chris Minns said the rules were important at the time to get the cruise industry going after the pandemic, but they were no longer needed.
“We need to get life back to normal,” he said.
“We could not remain the only country with these rules for cruising.”
Mr Minns formally revoked the Eastern Seaboard and Western Australian Cruise Protocols, which were introduced in 2022 to support the safe resumption of the industry after the federal government lifted its cruise ship ban.
Under the protocols, passengers embarking and disembarking the ships were required to be fully vaccinated, do pre-departure testing and were subject to mask mandates.
The protocols were agreed upon by Victorian, Queensland and West Australian leaders at national cabinet and implemented on a voluntary basis by the industry.
Now all four jurisdictions have agreed there was no longer a need for formal protocols with increasing community immunity to COVID-19 and lessons learned in the cruising industry since voyages resumed.
The industry injects billions into the Australian tourism economy but was curtailed during the pandemic after mass breakouts of COVID-19 on cruise ships.
(Australian Associated Press)